Philharmonic (U.S.A.) / c. 1945

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Design: At the top is the figure of a winged god (possibly Mercury, the god of speed in Greek mythology, but who is usually depicted with wings on his heels) of the type seen as a car hood ornament, with the lower part of the wings fashioned into a semblance of wheels, standing on top of a globe, with the American continent to the fore. The monoline script for the words 'Air Chief' was a popular style for the chrome lettering which appeared on cars of the era. The 'modern' font (referring to the thick-and-thin treatment of vertical and horizontal strokes, not the fashion relevance) used for the word 'Philharmonic' is Corvinus Bold (probably named for associations with the ancient house of Korwin, connected with Hungarian royalty), designed by Hungarian type designer Imre Reiner in 1935. The cactus-like outer border is formed by the (very narrow) impress of a Firestone tire-track. The Firestone logo, in a lively Fraktur Gothic, is one of the best-known of contemporary logos to make use of inherent qualities in Gothic lettering, suggesting strength, durability and a hand-written guarantee of quality.

History: The name 'Philharmonic' (Greek philo-harmonika) means 'devoted to or appreciative of music, related to a symphony orchestra.' Probably these generic-type records were sold or even given away as promotional items at Firestone stores, rather than being marketed through conventional record stores. Label scan courtesy of collector Georg Richter of Germany, who writes: "The Firestone Tire & Rubber Co. of Akron Ohio had their own record label carrying the brand name of 'Air Chief.' Obviously they did not make their own recordings, in the main using masters from Columbia. It is unknown whether Columbia pressed the records, though more than likely they did. Some records I have seen list the full name of the backing orchestra, but on this example the pianist Frankie Carle is mentioned as having only 'rhythm accompaniment.' The date of the original recording was June 26 1940, and was originally issued on Columbia 35571. The Firestone label might date from c. 1945, but I have not yet found any corroborating evidence."

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